Trial of suspect in slain student case continues

The prosecution rested its case Friday in the trial of Alejandra Guerrero, who has been charged with the murder of USC graduate student, Xinran Ji.

Jurors heard several rounds of testimony, starting with a forensic expert who confirmed that red stains found on a baseball bat believed to be the murder weapon were a perfect match for the victim’s blood. Mei Ling Cabral Robinson, who works for the Los Angeles Police Department’s Forensic Science Division, also testified that bloodstains found on a pair of jeans recovered by police the night of the murder matched Ji’s DNA profile.

DNA from the handle of the bat, however, turned up inconclusive results due to a lack of testable evidence.

Prosecutors also presented screenshots of Guerrero’s Facebook messages leading up to the night of the murder, which were retrieved with a search warrant. The messages specifically referenced “flocking,” a term that Guerrero used to describe robbing, and established a motive for Ji’s murder. LAPD detectives said that the group Guerrero was with that night was driving around looking for someone to “flock,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Facebook testimony had been redacted due to several objections from the defense, which claimed that the full transcript of the messages contained a “racial overtone that would inflame the jury’s passions” and unfairly bias jurors against Guerrero. Language such as the word “n—-r” was removed, as well as references to previous altercations that Guerrero had had.

Ji, an engineering student from China, was killed in July 2014 while walking to his off-campus apartment. Three others are also charged with the homicide, but Jonathan Del Carmen, Alberto Ochoa and Andrew Garcia will be tried separately from Guerrero.

The trial will resume Tuesday morning, when the defense will present its case to the jury.